IFComp 2014: The Black Lily, by Hannes Schueller

The 2014 Interactive Fiction Competition is on; details at ifcomp.org. This is my fifth game. (Yay! I can vote!)

Blurb: If you think you are being watched while playing this game, keep telling yourself that it’s all in your mind.

I get this in the opening text:

The delicate fingers pressing against the indestructible window pane which was supposed to keep evil out. The superior attitude suddenly giving way to despair. The widening eyes in the moment of cognition.

My pretention-dar is pinging. I hope to God this overwriting is either not representative of the work as a whole or is going to be brutally taken down. Certainly the narrator comes across as intolerably smug, but that may be the point. There is a pretty heavy veneer of too-awesome-for-you in the protagonist’s vignettes, as they stroll around a dance floor and dance better than everyone, or go to a boutique and buy the most expensive and exceptionally tailored pants on the floor. So I’m not sure what I’m really supposed to think of the protagonist, as regards his character: clearly by the end I am no longer supposed to regard him as a good person (although it’s very easy to miss an awful lot of details), but is his impeccable tailoring and trim body and flash style supposed to be enviable or flagged up as being as pretentious as it looks?

One problem is that we never actually get a real feel for what makes our protagonist tick other than smug self-satisfaction. By the end we’ve learned a major character trait and have absolutely no idea what motivates it. That’s kind of frustrating.

The text is littered with modest grammatical and stylistic errors. None of them impede comprehension, but particularly in a text trying so hard for a proper and correct voice like this, it’s irksome. Also, evidence of insufficient beta.

Rating: 5

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About Jake
I'm a mathematics professor at the University of Louisville, and a geek.

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